Sequestration Could Put Nearly One Million Defense Employees on Furlough

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks during his final press conference in the Pentagon briefing room on February 13, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

If you're a civilian employee working for the Defense Department, you've been put on notice. The sequester is very real and it's extremely likely you are going to feel the effects of it soon. About 800,000 employees received notification that a furlough could be on the way. 

J. David Cox is the president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union of federal employees. Dave Gassett, a mechanic in Arkansas, has worked for the federal government for 38 years.

If you're a civilian employee working for the Defense've been put on notice...the sequester is very real and it's extremely likely you are gonna feel the effects of it soon.
800,000 of you received notification that you could be furloughed. This is was the Pentagon's announcement, yesterday:
Under Secretary of Defense and CFO Robert Hale, Press Conference 2/20/13
And unfortunately, along with this long list of items we will have to do if sequestration lasts all year, are furloughs, for civilian personnel. We feel we don't have any choice, but to impose furloughs, even though we would much prefer not to do it.
That's Undersecretary of Defense Robert Hale speaking at a press conference yesterday - describing the across the board cuts to the budget that the sequester will result in.
With us is J. David Cox, President of American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union of federal employees.


J. David Cox and Dave Gassett

Produced by:

Tyler Adams and Jen Poyant

Comments [39]

As a government employee I would gladly have done my part with trying to put money towards the debt.

It would have been a lot easier if you had asked me to be furloughed one day a pay period back in January. Because no agreement can be made even two days before the deadline I have a real possibility of losing two days a pay period now. This will affect me so much more than asking me to lose one day a pay period. I love my job with the government and I feel I make an impact for the defense department. How much longer can you keep my life turned upside down waiting and wondering?

Feb. 27 2013 12:30 PM
unkerjay from Puget Sound, WA

Regardless of the likely very real consequences to those affected as a result of this process going into effect, what's the point of attempting to persuade those who don't care, aren't listening and have bent over backwards to ensure that (due to safe district gerrymandering) THEY won't be suffering the consequences of their actions?

What's the point of attempting to raise valid points with the tone deaf?

Might as well argue with a brick.

The good news is that divided government prevents excess. It prevents pretty much every thing else as well.

Nothing like having two sides dug in, neither side giving an inch.


Feb. 26 2013 01:29 AM
Clay from NC guys are so lost. As a DoD Civilian Employee, I understand that spending needs to be cut across the board. But furlough/layoffs of some of the most patriotic and qualified personnel in the name of "=sequestration" is essentially no more than fear tactics by both parties in order to drive their agendas. You all need to realize we aren't big business, 90 percent of us aren't paid outrageous salaries that aren't proportionate to our qualifications. In fact as a contractor I was making almost 33 percent more. As a US Army veteran I felt obligated to continue to use my expertise in order to support my country as a civilian. The 800,000 of us that work for the DoD is not nearly as much as is necessary to support our fine fighting forces. Cuts are necessary, and changes to cut out fraud/waste/abuse should be manditory. But taking the money of hard working loyal employees as a fear tactic is not the answer. But it's easy for all of you to stand on the sidelines and say how this is "effective". Because you don't see the lives and faces of those it directly effects. I see my children and wife everyday. It directly affects them.

Feb. 21 2013 03:17 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

This Sequestration is a bluff, but like the game of "Chicken" in "Rebel Without A Cause," (where two punks head towards the cliff in jalopies and then the "rebels" are supposed to jump out)well, hopefully our Politicians won't get their sleeves caught on the door handle and take us all down that Cliff with them.

Feb. 21 2013 12:37 PM
Angel from Miami, FL

Government is a service-based enterprise. The employees are its primary assets - not trucks or desks or buildings or drones. Reducing inventory and streamlining operations should come BEFORE adversely affecting the livelihood of its employees. Less workers means less services. What is government without the services it is meant to provide?

Feb. 21 2013 10:06 AM
DOD employee

All fine comments from people who are not endanger of being laid-off. I think the tenor of the replies would be quite different if it was their jobs that were being cut.

Feb. 21 2013 10:01 AM
Enough from Ca

Once again there are playing with our lifes and now they are planning to go on a week off from there jobs with pay and I am sure once again they will give them selfs a pay raise I am a DOD worker we have not gotten a pay raise in the last 4 years and are told we not getting one in the next 4 year at least.

Not giving the 800K pay raise saves them money I glad to have a job but like most others out the most DOD works live pay check to pay check with them raising taxes we had to rethink how to make ends meet with a $200.00 cut in pay every payday already.

So we are told now we are going to take anouther $1k a month pay cut again they want us to give give giveI dont know about you could you afford $1200.00 a month cut in pay the bills you already have still needs to be paid It sounds there be a lot more bankrupcy claims happening.

So if they want to save money what gives them the right to keep on giving them selfs pay raises every year and givng them selfs more beni's every year as they take everones eles away from them I feel we should be able to stop there pay until they do there jobs dont let them take there time off from work until they do there job.

Anouther way remove there free housing there free car there free travel free aircraft free food ECT them pay into the programs they push on to us to pay for but they dont have to them selfs most of them are well off in the frst place why do we pay them so much most of them dont need the money like us worker bee's do to support our families.

Feb. 21 2013 09:34 AM

This story was just a repetition of the Obama Administration's weekly talking points. That Sequestration was an end of the world as we know it.

And using unionized government workers to carry the message.

If anybody has been playng games for the last month, it's been Obama and Democrats. We've known about this upcoming Sequestration date for weeks. To avoid Sequestration, all that was needed, was for Democrats to pass a budget with meaningful spending cuts. But The Takeaway wasn't talking about it, and Obama wasn't doing anything about it. Obama spent last weekend playing golf with Tiger Woods. And The Takeaway has spent weeks talking about guns, asteroids, preschool education; anything and everything except the pressure on the Democrats to pass a budget and to help get federal spending under control.

We're tired of being lectured that what we need is more taxes and more government spending. This is no exception.

Feb. 21 2013 09:25 AM

Could it be that Defense was purposely put first in cuts by this President and unions leaders are quickly sent out to the progressive media to further the narrative that the administration wants?

"Bluff and smoke and mirrors" indeed which is costing us trillions.

Washington Monument rules. Billions in waste are admitted by the government but high profile subjects like the Washington Monument and essential services are cut first for political effect while the President goes on vacation.....again.

This all began when the President, Reid and Pelosi refused to pass a budget and raise taxes after spending trillions in 2010 and deliberately manufactured a political crisis that continues to this day for their own political advantage.

Sadly the media and the public are falling for the ruse....again.

Feb. 21 2013 09:24 AM
Mark H from Florida

I used to work for a major defense contractor at a military base, and it was generally twelve months pay for three months work.Government waste is absolutely astounding at these facilities, and if the people knew what was really happening, they'd burn down Washington.
The military industrial complex should be cut back to pre WW II levels. Evacuate all overseas military facilities, of which there are hundreds worldwide, and maybe the rest of mankind won't feel like we're trying to take over the world.
Why should we shoulder the cost of defending our allies ? Let them defend themselves for a change. They laugh at us while we go bankrupt, and all we get from Washington is more of the same.

Feb. 21 2013 09:19 AM

Yo, future commies of the world...this is bad. It is bad for those employees that can't handle the pay cuts, its bad for the economy. If you cut peoples' pay, you lessen their tax contribution, further stagnating the economy. It is a pathetic and weak move to trim defense. It is detrimental and wildly inefficient. Say goodbye to many small business suppliers and many hardworking american jobs
Contributions to human rights orgs and soft power will be vastly diminished. Why not cut other programs first, or at least equally with defense? The most important job of the government is to protect its people; without that you neohippies couldn't drink your lattes and go slack lining all the time. We have thirteen air craft carriers because the US military understands that a fair fight is far too risky for the American people. More lives are lost in a fair fight, and less humane counties might just be interested in taking more swings at the US populous if they think they have a chance of winning. We need real change. Cut medicare. Cut social security. DO NOT add a huge program like Obamacare when we are worried about the budget and the fiscal cliff, and then justify it by gutting the military's salary for your own program!

Feb. 21 2013 09:18 AM
Curly from USA

This situation is contrived. It did not have to be. When the sequestration was first suggested by Obama about 18 months ago it was supposed to prevent this from happening. But the senate has not passed a budget in the four years of the Obama's administration. The house even passed a budget proposed by Obama and yet Reid in the senate would not even allow that budget to come to a vote. This whole thing is contrived just to make it appear that the republicans are preventing the government from doing its work. It has worked in the past and the dems and Obama don't see why it won't work again. The President has had 18 months to get ready for this. But just about 5 months ago when it appeared that there would be no budget agreement Obama told the defense department contractors not sent out the notices (as the law requires) that there may be a shutdown of works.
The internet is making a big difference in the information that the citizens have so the citizens are harder to fool now then in the past.

Feb. 21 2013 09:16 AM
Who knows??

As a a DoD employee I can tell you right now that this small cut is going to hurt in major way. Civilians make up a large percentage of the people that keep the DoD running, not active duty personel. Without us, many things can't be done that need to be done. The major advantage the US military has over the other countries is that we are always ready, 24/7/365 and this will change with the cuts. While 2% doesn't sound like much to most people, we are looking at a over a month without pay and our checks are smaller this year than last because of tax increases. So, have some sympathy for those of us that work hard, keep our military ready and take care of our families because it just got a lot harder.

Feb. 21 2013 09:12 AM
lapazjim from arizona

Well it just goes to show the Obama administration and its priority's. Instead of them worrying about his want of immigration reform and gun control they should be concerned with the sequester and the government budget.Obama does not know what the majority of people in the U.S. want.He takes his one track mind and goes with his blinders on.
Before Obama and Congress work on immigration reform and gun control they should work on more pressing problems.The sequester at the top of the list,the budget,unemployment and a way to actually create jobs.When this is done then worry about everything else.
As usual DC politicians do not know how to prioritize.They don't know or they don't care??Remember they only think one way "the needs of the few(them)outweigh the needs of the many(voters)!!

Feb. 21 2013 09:08 AM

2011...Oh no we are gonna loose our AAA credit rating... we have been acting irresponsily for years...well we will show them we can be responsible.

2013...Yeah I know we said we would do more to get our fiscal house in order but that was almost two years ago...and well...we just don't have the moxy to do what's right... elections are coming up again soon.

Feb. 21 2013 09:06 AM
Al Dorman from Las Vegas

Good! Bring it on!
We need to halve the $1T "Defense" budget if you ask me.

Feb. 21 2013 09:06 AM

Many people will want to blame the president for this...but when it comes to passing policy...its all on congress. President doesn't have the power to make laws. checks and balances. so when you hear your congress try to blame it on obama...or whoever the next president him or her up and tell em to get to work and stop passing blame.

Feb. 21 2013 09:01 AM
Walter Thomson from austin,TX

this is no big deal,,anyone who has been in the military,knows of the waste!! and having worked for the fed,13yrs,,,I have seen the waste,and those fed employees will lie ,cheat and steal ,before the give up anything !!!

Feb. 21 2013 09:00 AM
John from Ny

Bonner's great idea via his now
famous March 2011 PowerPoint that he sold to his party.
And is now trying to hide the fact that it
is his and the republican party's paper.

Feb. 21 2013 08:59 AM
Jack from South Carolina

If a 2% cut line's out to 800,000 to a Million civilian employees furloughed, just how many civilian employees does the Def. Dept. have?
Seems at first glance that we are paying for a very bloated Government Dept.

Feb. 21 2013 08:59 AM
Armand Winter from Utah

The GOP wants to have the sequester... Hatch wants to furlough employees at Hill AFB

Feb. 21 2013 08:58 AM

These cuts do represent 2% or so of the budget. In my house, I have had to make 20% - 30% cuts when income and spending got out of sync. My family had to do without things we were used to and postpone other things. If a 2% federal reduction is "un-doable", we have no hope of maintaining our standard of living. It is time to explore ways to give up the US citizenship and participate in a country that is more in balance.

Feb. 21 2013 08:58 AM

Maybe if you cut those salaries of those Government representatives that are doing such a good job at running this country, you wouldn't have such a major problem.

Feb. 21 2013 08:50 AM
Heather from Dracut, Ma

Aren't these the people liberals always tell us need to be cut? That we need to cut defense spending? Suddenly Obama and the liberals are worried about defense employees being cut?

Feb. 21 2013 08:49 AM
Tom D from New York

These aren't budget cuts, it's just no increase in the budget. Let them make the cuts, don't let the media fool you into believing the country is going to collapse because of the sequester. I only wish that the sequester actually was a real cut to our spending problem. The American people are living on less income, and our government is crying about not getting an increase. Our elected officials are pathetic, on both sides of the isle.

Feb. 21 2013 08:48 AM
Jeff B from Princeton NJ

More doomsday predictions & scare tactics from the liberal media. We need far more defense dept employees to be fired, and then let's look at all the other agencies too. Our Govt is WAY too big and we spend way too much. It's OUR money people. Email your elected officials and tell them we want REAL cuts in spending NOW (not just the usual decreases in the predicted increases and then call that a "cut"). Dear Congress (both parties): Get off your fat butts and make some cuts.

Feb. 21 2013 08:46 AM
Dick Cheney from United States

We would not be in this position in tbe first place if W and his stooges had not gone into Iraq and him not slash taxes at the same time. Moran.

Feb. 21 2013 08:38 AM
Anthony P from Alabama

There needs to be cuts in programs and some Defense Department staffs, but to furlough civilians one day a week and give them a 20% pay cut will hurt most people. I do not know many people that could take a 20% pay cut. They will still have to work all but one day a week, so it would be hard to find a way to make up that pay another way.

Feb. 21 2013 08:35 AM

Compromise is required to avoid the this economic damage to coutry. The tea party types have created this economic emergency to get their way. This child like behavior.

Feb. 21 2013 08:32 AM

The gov spends more money than it has. If 800,000 civ def emloyees lose their jobs it is because the defense budget is out of proportion to the tax base. The US tax payer is paying their salaries via gov buying what they produce. What is the aircraft carrier ratio. 13 US - 12 THE REST OF THE WORLD. Come now people, you can´t have it both ways, world police and low taxes. Social Sec. is deducted from salaries. If the benefits outweigh the contributions then lower the benefits or raise the contribution. The US is 17 trillion plus in debt and rising. In order to start to deal with this gov sponsored jobs must go. Of course that will raise the unemployment rate and cause a return to recession. Is it any wonder the politicians don´t know what to do?

Feb. 21 2013 08:30 AM

these automatic spending (if i understand this right)could of been avoided if the govt. spending issue was addressed as asked for by the republicans after they increased the taxes as the president had asked for,but then the president did not present any govt. cuts. did not live up to "hisword" now it is being said that if the republicans do not address the spending cuts the sequestia will go into effect. Did i here this right or did obama just turn the blame over again He just is not a stand up guy .this is not because he is demo or repub it is just ego

Feb. 21 2013 08:27 AM
rsdofny from ny

Save your breath. The defense budget is full of wastage. Why are we spending more money on defense than the next 5 countries combined? Why are we defending foreign soil? If you want to threaten the country with layoff of civilians, I would not care at all. Go ahead, make my day!

Feb. 21 2013 08:16 AM
unkerjay from Puget Sound, WA

Let's see here, this and the fiscal cliff earlier averted were
both voted on and decided on by democrats and republicans. They
were divided up in such a way as to cause equal opportunity pain for
the purpose of driving both sides to the negotiating table in order to
avoid the consequences which supposedly neither side wanted.

And yet, here we are a week away from yet another "crisis" with no
solution in site and the clock tick, tick, ticking away.

Forgive me while I yawn.

Once again those elected to govern demonstrate they'd rather not.
Tone deaf to consequences, accountability or responsibility. Once
again prepping their pointing fingers for maximum effect and digging
holes in which the truth can be buried.

The boy who cried wolf only got a limited number of opportunities to do

I think our federal legislature has far exceeded those of the boy who
cried wolf.

It may wish to lurch from one (manufactured) crisis after another so as
"not to let it go to waste" as apparently learned so well from Rahm Emanuel , now moved on.

I've just got better things to do then care about a government which can't
be bothered to govern.

Of course, every two years, there are elections. A long time to wait, but,
at least for me, not to forget.

Feb. 21 2013 08:06 AM
Walt from Cape Cod

We (and I mean the majority of Americans) have become so complaisant that elected officials do what ever they personally want for their own good. If those 800000 thousand employees notified for furlough showed up at their elected offices and homes things would be different. Come on America wake the hell up!

Feb. 21 2013 08:04 AM
Tom Murray

And this is a bad thing? Don't worry about it. It's just the Conservatives trying to scare you!

Feb. 21 2013 08:04 AM
Mike from PA

That's OK, the furloughs will be overcome by the complete shutdown of the Govt on 27 March...see, it can always get worse!

Feb. 21 2013 07:58 AM
Donald Berrian from Massachusetts

It would make more sense to let the military close bases and cancel weapons programs they don't want or need. We need to cut spending but the politicians shouldn't be making the decisions for political advantage.

Feb. 21 2013 07:49 AM
HAPPYGIRL from White House

Don't believe it. It's just the liberals trying to scare you.

Feb. 21 2013 07:48 AM
e baldanza


Feb. 21 2013 07:45 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.